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Tea Leaves

Indonesia embraces best and avoids worst of 'Bali model'

Jakarta pins hopes on Lake Toba for a new model of sustainable tourism

It is easy to feel a little superior when you think you have discovered a tourist destination that is off the regular track, and that was how my family felt about the ocean-blue waters of Lake Toba. (Photo by John Duerden).

Most of the 260,000 foreign tourists who visited North Sumatra in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 arrived at the international airport at Medan, the island's biggest city and the biggest Indonesian metropolis not located on Java, the country's most populated island. From the airport, it is at least a four-hour drive along bumpy roads from there to Lake Toba, one of the most beautiful places in one of Asia's most beautiful countries.

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